What is waste?


What is waste?  A simple question perhaps – the smelly stuff in the bin liner, the pile of beds and mattresses dumped in the country lane, the unwanted computer thrown in the wheelie bin.

So, stuff in the wrong place.  But at LCRN we take a broader view: waste includes lives in the wrong place, missed opportunity, disconnected communities and lack of skills.

And we don’t think you can talk about one without the other.  London produces 20 million tonnes of rubbish every year, costing taxpayers tens of millions of pounds every year to deal with.  Meanwhile one in four children live in poverty, 10% are unemployed across the city.  Rather than spending money on burying our rubbish, could we not, at least partially, invest in jobs, opportunity and hope?

Let’s take a look at the figures:

  • One tonne of waste costs a local authority at least £100 to deal with.
  • Every 10,000 tonnes of waste incinerated or buried provides one job.

But let’s take a look at that tonne of waste.  Hidden within it is:

  • Textiles – worth hundreds of pounds per tonnes in the UK and overseas, providing 85 jobs for every 10,000 tonnes of material recycled or re-used.
  • IT equipment – seeing a huge demand for educational purposes in the developing world, providing a staggering 296 jobs for every 10,000 tonnes of equipment recycled or re-used.  A refurbished PC can be sold on for hundreds of pounds.
  • Furniture and white goods – providing around 65 jobs per 10,000 tonnes dealt with.

So get it right, and that rubbish becomes a resource – representing income not cost, providing hugely increased opportunity and employment.  LCRN works with over two hundred members, a myriad of small, locally-based charities and enterprises working in their local areas, sorting, fixing, advocating, repairing, promoting, composting, educating, recycling, remanufacturing, and training that waste away.  Many of these organisations are stretched to the limit simply doing what they do on a daily basis.  LCRN provides a voice to them, demonstrating their value, representing their interests and lobbying for their benefit.


So what’s ‘community-based resource management’?  Is it the same as waste management?

Resource management is all about waste: how much we create, what we do with it, and how we can make a positive out of what appears to be a negative.  That’s why we often use the word ‘resources’ instead of ‘waste’ – because it genuinely is a resource that we can do something with.’

Charity Number: 1118616 | Company Number: 4323551